Markets brace for chaotic trading after India bans wheat exports

India has banned exports of wheat, in a transfer that’s more likely to push meals costs increased and gasoline starvation in poor international locations that rely upon imports of the commodity.

The Indian authorities mentioned that it was implementing a ban on abroad gross sales “in order to manage the overall food security of the country and to support the needs of the neighbouring and other vulnerable countries”.

However, it mentioned that it will nonetheless permit exports for which letters of credit score had already been issued and it will think about gross sales to international locations seeking to meet their meals safety wants.

The announcement, one among newest protectionist measures taken by meals exporting international locations following this 12 months’s surge in costs, follows denials by Indian authorities officers that they might cease wheat exports.

India had been filling the export provide hole within the worldwide wheat markets left by Ukraine after the Russian invasion, however issues had heightened about export restrictions amid a heatwave which has hit the nation since March.

The U-turn got here after Indian authorities information this week confirmed home inflation surging to the best degree in eight years, with rising meals costs alarming policymakers.

Traders predicted chaotic buying and selling on the worldwide wheat markets after they open in the beginning of subsequent week because the ban could be a blow to patrons in search of wheat provides. “It’s an absolute bombshell,” mentioned Swithun Still, a grain dealer primarily based in Switzerland. “There will be panic on the wheat futures markets when they open,” he added.

Line chart of CBOT wheat ($ per bushel) showing Wheat futures are up 50% this year

One of the world’s largest wheat producers, India had a bumper harvest final 12 months whereas another key exporters together with Canada and Argentina suffered from dangerous climate.

India’s wheat exports rose to a file excessive of greater than 7mn tonnes within the 12 months ended March as conflict all however halted exports from Ukraine.

But searing warmth in March and April, the place temperatures of as much as 45C hit massive components of India’s wheat belt, have heightened issues in regards to the nation’s home provide. With a number of extra weeks of warmth anticipated earlier than the onset of the annual monsoon subsequent month, the federal government not too long ago downgraded its forecast for the present crop by 5 per cent to 105mn tonnes for the 12 months to June.

Bar chart of Forecast for upcoming 2022-23 crop year  (mn tonnes) showing World’s top ten wheat exporters

Wheat costs are at eye-watering ranges resulting from provide issues attributable to the Ukraine conflict and droughts all over the world. The US Department of Agriculture forecast that international provides for the approaching crop 12 months would fall for the primary time in 4 years. “The USDA made it clear that we are heading towards a global food crisis,” mentioned Carlos Mera, analyst at Rabobank. “The coming 12 months will be very challenging.”

Wheat futures in Chicago, the worldwide benchmark, closed at $11.6725 a bushel, up 50 per cent from the beginning of the 12 months whereas the European wheat futures market was at €410.75 a tonne, simply shy of its file excessive in March.

India’s shopper worth index for April rose 7.8 per cent from a 12 months earlier, based on information launched on Thursday, the best since 2014.

Concerns in regards to the fast enhance in costs prompted the Reserve Bank of India to elevate rates of interest unexpectedly this month for the primary time in 4 years.

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